Judicial activism requested to reduce backlog of pending cases

Karachi: The apex judiciary should take steps for reducing huge backlog of the pending cases in lower courts and the success stories of neighbouring countries in this regard should be replicated in Pakistan, especially the use of digital and information technology to keep a close eye on speed of court proceedings, said Justice Helpline President Nadeem Ahmed Sheikh Advocate here Wednesday.

He said the situation of cases’ backlog in lower courts of Sindh is quite worrisome because according to a report to the Supreme Court on the judiciary’s progress in 2017, as many as 93,403 cases are pending in courts of all 29 districts of the province at the start of 2018.

He said as per the report, the courts wrapped up 265,808 cases last year which comprised criminal, civil and family cases among others. The conviction rate was a mere 34% in 2017, with 66% of suspects being set free. He said the heavy backlog of cases in lower judiciary demand befitting strategies and firm actions at the level of apex judiciary.

He said the apex judiciary has already been playing a vital role in doling out justice to the masses and its suo moto notices into the issues pertaining to basic rights of people and basic facilities of life at the grassroots levels have already won the hearts of Pakistanis and restarted their confidence in the justice system of Pakistan.

He said in the neighbouring country, India, proceedings of all cases are recorded, but in Pakistan there is no such a check and balance system and witnesses here give one statement in morning and another in evening. He said the lawyers and prosecutors do not mark their attendance in courts and court roster system in lower courts is not being fully implemented. He said that the roster of all lower courts in Sindh may be linked to the website of the Sindh High Court (SHC) so as to keep a closer watch on the speed of disposal of cases.

He said in many countries there is the system of evening courts, which may also be introduced in Pakistan. He said digitalization of court rosters, their availability on court websites and recording of proceedings of each and every case would greatly help in reducing the huge backlog of cases in lower courts.

He said the lawyer fraternity and bar associations and bar councils have to play a crucial role in making the lower judiciary more efficient and result-oriented. He said the standard of legal education and training should be further increased and refresher courses for legal practitioners at every level should also be arranged. He said the system of paralegal training should also be strengthened in Pakistan on priority.

He said when the other institutions stop functioning properly the apex judiciary becomes the last hope of citizens. He hoped that the apex judiciary would give more attention to these problems and issue orders for steps to lessen the burden of pending cases, so that the citizens’ confidence on their apex judiciary could be further increased.